Spring makes even an old coot's thoughts turn to love, to the meaning of love, to what love really is. We need not even consider love for a child or a parent, a friend, or even humanity in general, all of which are self-evident, so let's focus on love of and for one person, romantic love.
In The Fiddler on the Roof there's a scene in which Tevye and his wife Golde come face to face with the shift from the arranged marriages of their era to the romantic love that would become the basis of their children's relationships, and their grandchildren's. "Do you love me?" he asks and she responds with a series of evasions until under his persistent questioning, she breaks into song:
Do I love you?
For twenty-five years I've washed your clothes
Cooked your meals, cleaned your house
Given you children, milked the cow
After twenty-five years, why talk about love right now?
Do I love him?
For twenty-five years I've lived with him
Fought him, starved with him
Twenty-five years my bed is his
If that's not love, what is?
I'll tell you what that is in the language of cinema: it's "My Beautiful Laundrette" as opposed to "A Man and a Woman."
Love, in my not so humble opinion, is not what you do. It's what you say, it's how you kiss, it's an openness to sharing your innermost feelings. It's physical and emotional; it's chemistry. And if you wash clothes and cook meals but don't say "I love you," it's a great master-servant relationship, but it's not love.
Then there's love denied, love lost, love crushed, love spirited away in misunderstanding. The aching, searing pain when we lose someone we love. Isn't that love, too?
Love is a rollercoaster. Hang on for the ride.